CEO 81-59 -- September 17, 1981
CONFLICT OF INTEREST
SCHOOL BOARD MEMBER SELLING INSURANCE TO BUSINESS ENTITY DOING BUSINESS WITH SCHOOL BOARD
To: (Name withheld at the person's request.)
Section 112.313(7), Florida Statutes, prohibits a school board member from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with the school board. A life and health insurance agent has a contractual relationship with the insurance company and not with the insured. Therefore, no prohibited conflict of interest exists where a school board member has sold life and health insurance to an architectural firm which is employed by the school board.
Does a prohibited conflict of interest exist where you, a School Board member, have sold life and health insurance to an architectural firm which is employed by the School Board?
Your question is answered in the negative.
In your letter of inquiry you advise that you are a member of the Dade County School Board and that privately you are an insurance agent selling life and health insurance. You also advise that one of your insurance clients is an architectural firm which has been employed by the School Board as its consulting architect. This firm has purchased life and health insurance from insurance companies which you serve as agent, you advise, but no contract ever has been entered into between you and the firm.
The Code of Ethics for Public Officers and Employees provides in relevant part:
CONFLICTING EMPLOYMENT OR CONTRACTUAL RELATIONSHIP. -- No public officer or employee of an agency shall have or hold any employment or contractual relationship with any business entity or any agency which is subject to the regulation of, or is doing business with, an agency of which he is an officer or employee . . . ; nor shall an officer or employee of an agency have or hold any employment or contractual relationship that will create a continuing or frequently recurring conflict between his private interests and the performance of his public duties or that would impede the full and faithful discharge of his public duties. [Section 112.313(7)(a), Florida Statutes (1979).]
This provision prohibits a school board member from having any employment or contractual relationship with a business entity which is doing business with the school board. Generally, in the absence of special circumstances, an agent of an insurer who solicits or effects insurance is not the agent of the insured. 43 Am. Jur. 2d Insurance, Section 146. We assume from the circumstances you have presented that you have been retained as agent for the insurance company and that you are not and have not been an agent for the insured, the architectural firm. If this is true, then you would not have any employment or contractual relationship with the firm; rather, in your dealings with the firm you have been acting as an agent for the insurance company, with which you do have a contractual relationship. Since the insurance company is not doing business with the School Board, Section 112.313(7)(a) would not apply.
Accordingly, we find that no prohibited conflict of interest exists where one of your insurance clients is the architectural firm which is employed as consulting architect to the School Board of which you are a member. In your letter of inquiry you reference voting conflicts of interest when a public officer votes on a matter affecting the interests of a person with whom he is doing business. For your information in this regard, we are enclosing a copy of CEO 80-3. As in that opinion, although the architectural firm is not a principal by whom you are retained, it appears possible that matters coming before the School Board concerning the firm might indirectly result in increased insurance needs and additional revenue to you. If you vote under such circumstances, we would recommend the filing of CE Form 4, Memorandum of Voting Conflict.